360_medical_insider_0624Ricky is 51 years old and has lived with a serious mental illness most of his life. He suffers from severe schizophrenia, and hears voices on a regular basis. He often lives in fear and distress, and as a result, his behavior is frequently erratic and unpredictable.

Because of the extent of his mental illness, Ricky lost his jobs in security and retail sales several years ago, and was homeless for the majority of that time. He spent those years not only living with mental illness, but also with multiple unmanaged chronic diseases.

As a result, he often relied on hospitals, emergency rooms and mental health crisis services to stabilize his health, control his fears and find some semblance of stability.

While these emergency services have likely saved his life, they also come at a considerable public cost. In a six month period between 2013 and 2014, Ricky’s medical costs totaled $213,196 (not taking into account the costs of shelters, jails and other services not included in his self-reported assessment survey).

In February 2014, Miriam’s Kitchen referred Ricky to intensive mental health support and housing through our partnership with Pathways to Housing D.C.  Together with Pathways, we’ve given Ricky the dignity of having a home and the stability that Permanent Supportive Housing provides. Ricky’s Permanent Supportive Housing requires an investment of just $22,500 per year by the city.

In January of this year, Ricky utilized Fire and EMS services 19 times. In the first month that he was housed, he utilized FEMS just twice.  While it’s only one month, this is a significant change and the savings are dramatic.

As he emerges from an uncertain daily lifestyle, Ricky now takes comfort in his new daily routine.  Although he has a long road ahead of him, he is working to reduce his symptoms, and embraces even the seemingly minor aspects of his new lifestyle. Among his favorite new habits is watching the morning and evening news on his new TV.

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